You want to believe in the best version of any team.
It’s understandable why the AFL wants a shorter and faster format like other sports. They have to keep up with them and not get left behind.
Rugby union has 7s, rugby league has 9s, soccer has 7s, tennis has Fast4, golf has sixes, netball has Fast5, field hockey has 5s, softball has summer slam and of course cricket has T20. Even water polo has beach water polo fours
But AFLX is just a complete and utter circus that undermines the credibility of the sport. Instead, the AFL should get behind footy 9s and work on promoting it as an Olympic sport, is AFL International are doing.
Unlike AFLX, which has a much higher profile, the inaugural World 9s tournament was held on 16 February, which went by largely unnoticed. But despite its relative invisibility it at least has some kind of credibility as a format – the sort of credibility AFLX is lacking.
The tournament featured eight teams gathered at Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park representing Chile, Ireland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland and Team Harmony.
They didn’t have Zooper goals or performing acrobats and they didn’t need flashing goalposts or Gatorade game changers – it was just about the football, pure and simple. In fact they even did away with the behind posts to avoid rewarding mediocrity and poor kicking.
The team at AFL International see great potential in footy 9s and they have a strategic plan for 2020-40 to have footy 9s included in the Olympic Games. If the AFL could just come to their senses and realise that 9s is the way forward, maybe it could actually get somewhere and maybe even be included in the Olympic program.
In the words of Australian Football International CEO Brian Clarke, “If Aussie Rules is to become a truly global game, we must be bold and embrace innovation. We must aim high and start sowing the seeds for a nine-a-side version of Aussie Rules to become an Olympic sport.”
Now maybe the cynics and also some of the purists will say that Aussie Rules shouldn’t be an Olympic sport, but compared to other sports that are already part of the program, like surfing, skateboarding, golf, tennis, sailing, rock climbing, equestrian, synchronised swimming and now even breakdancing, I think that AFL 9s is worthier of a spot than any of them.
No matter how much marketing spin the AFL try to put on it, AFLX is just a circus.
If they actually want to promote a form of the game that can be played on rectangular fields and be taken seriously internationally, then they should get behind footy 9s. As a form of the game that’s all about the sport and with none of the circus, it actually has the credibility to be taken seriously by both potential new players and by international sports organisations such as the IOC.
It may seem improbable, but AFL 9s does seem to be at least somewhat more worthy of a spot in the Olympics than a number of other events. If it does make it in, then I would even expect people who follow other codes to get behind it as well. I mean, who wouldn’t get behind a sport that was invented in Australia being included in the Olympic Games?
That in itself would do more to promote Aussie Rules than AFLX ever will.
Besides, who doesn’t like to see the Aussies winning gold?